Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bottling a Moment

My boys spent the better part of an afternoon playing with a drain hole.  Not with toys, not bouncing in around in the shaded float I bought for my one year old, but pouring water into a drain hole and removing the cover.  And they were absolutely delighted by it.  A simple activity.  Two brothers.  Nothing but smiles and giggles.

Here's the thing.  I want to bottle up that joy.  That contentment over something so small and mundane, and store it forever.

We grow up and we forget to take pleasure in the every day.  Waking up in the morning to a new day.  Hearing a hummingbird buzz by your ear.  The smell of the foliage after the rain storm.  We get lost in the deadlines and the bills and the cleaning and laundry and we forget to breathe and take a moment to slow down, rest, and take in the unordinary that has come to seem ordinary.

My boys have more toys than they can play with, access to more cartoons than they can watch in a day, and three sets of grandparents to spoil them.  But what makes them happiest, what makes them laugh until they are breathless, is when I am a kid again.  When I chase them around the back yard, play hide and seek with them, and act so silly I forget my age.  I hear the endless cries of, "Again, Mama, again!" and although they wear me out completely, it is so worth it.  

I need more of those moments.  Because they grow up so fast.  Too fast.  I blinked and my oldest son was five, blinked again and my youngest will be two in a few months.  God, help me to push through the tiredness and enjoy these minutes, these hours, when my kids are small.  Tomorrow they will be older.  Different.  And a day closer to being an adult.

"Let all the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19:14

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  Won't you join us?

Today's prompt:  Broken

I thought I could mend myself.  I would stop chasing the wrong boy.  I would watch my mouth.  The dripping sarcasm and the cussing and the cutting words.  

Maybe some prozac would help that deep aching, the longing for something I couldn't even explain.  Couldn't grasp it.  So deep.

Little did I realize a pill may be able to trick my brain but it couldn't fill my heart.  Was there a medicine for that?  If there was, I was determined to find it.

I tried so hard to be better.  I cleaned my house until it was sparkling clean and you could literally eat off our kitchen floor.

Why was I so tired all the time?  I could barely drag myself out of bed.  Was there a pill that would help me sleep at night?

I longed to feel complete.  I had to fix it.  That pain.  What was it?  

It suddenly hit me one day.  I was standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing a bowl with scalding hot water and the caked on mess just wouldn't come off.  I scrubbed harder.  The stain resisted.

I would never be good enough.  I felt as though I was standing at the edge of a cliff and as I looked out ever the horizon, trying to discern the faintest hint of the sun, I couldn't see anything.  A moving skyline shifting in an opaque haze, my eyes tried to focus on something, anything, but fog was too obscuring.

Closing my eyes, I fell forward.  I didn't know what would happen next.  But as my body relaxed, I felt hands close in around me, lifting me up.  I opened my eyes to see a beautiful sunrise, colors bursting into life all around me.  No, I was not broken anymore.  I was His.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Inviting in the One Who Can Change a Life

He is my rocket.  My firecracker.  My never-stops-moving, easily excitable, constantly curious, and very defiant Gabe.  Gabriel, as the Hebrew calls him, strong man of God.  Our choice of a name for him was very deliberate, as the stories of this archangel have brought a depth of understanding to some of the mysteries in the heavenly realms.  And at the very young age of twenty months, he is already proving to have a very strong personality.  He fights me on everything whether it be what he's eating or how he's treating his big brother, and the only time when he is semi-still is when he is strapped in his car seat.

I absolutely love and adore him.  I could literally eat his cheeks.  When I hear him say "bubble," which is one of his newest words, I just want to smother his face with kisses.

Even when he keeps me up at night and stresses me to the point where I have to get fitted for a night guard to keep me from clenching my teeth.

He stretches me as a mother in new ways that were never there with my calm, goal-oriented and focused first son.  While I used to turn to God when I had reached my breaking point and felt as though I couldn't drag myself out of bed another day, now I begin my day with Him.  Or at least I try to.  I know that I cannot direct and streamline the endless energy of this little wonder without the help of the one who created him.  He knows him.  He was a glint in his Maker's eye before he was a tiny embryo in my belly, and I've been tuned, after trying and failing, to the fact that without His guidance I am simply a blind person floundering in the dark.  

I pray.  I pray that he will use every ounce of the stubbornness and spiritedness in him for God's glory.  That these traits would make him a tenacious force for Christ, and not his reason for stumbling.  And when he does stumble, that he will learn and grow and become stronger instead of bitter and defeated.

I pray.  I pray because in doing so I am inviting the Maker of the universe and the Creator of my son to have an influence in my son's life, in the life of my family.  Free will gives me the choice.  To invite Him in or leave him out.

When I invite Him in I have peace.  Not because I know the end of the story but because I know the One who's writing it.

So I leave my Gabriel at the feet of the One who made him, and I kneel at the foot of the cross asking for all his grace and mercy as I raise this boy who I hope will live to embody everything his name implies. 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Belong

Five Minute Friday is an amazing opportunity, started by Lisa-Jo Baker, for some brave writers to come together every Friday and spend five minutes writing about the same thing.  No hyper-editting, no being a stickler about grammar, just five minutes of your best uninhibited writing when you stay out of your own way. The most important rule: encourage your fellow writer who linked in before you.

Today's prompt:  Belong

She knew.  My scrappy rottweiler mix with her darting eyes and her hunter's nose.  She spotted you and your blonde lab across the lawn playing ball and knew that she belonged on your couch, tearing your couch cushions apart and making a new best friend.

He knew.  My Heavenly Father who makes all things new.  He knew that your ring belonged on my finger.  And somehow with your quiet strength and your faith, while still growing, would bring me back, would give me a push in the direction of the one who loved me first.

Although it would take a move nearly a continent wide and being literally cut open to bring forth new life but also to reveal all the memories pushed down deep, the scar tissue which had created a webbed mess.  Telling the enemy who temporarily rules this dark world I do belong to someone, someone who knew me before I knew myself.  Yes, to acknowledge the anger and the hurt but realize that even though there are questions in this life that may forever go unanswered I still belong to a God who is sovereign in spite of it all.  And He loves me.  Before anyone else and in spite of all my mess, He did, He does, and He will.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pursuit of the Unknown

I am in a period of waiting right now.  You see, I have a couple of manuscripts, one fiction and one non-fiction, that are in the hands of publishers.  Although I know there's a good chance that both will be declined, I still have a sense of hope, anticipation, wondering, and an endless thought train of what ifs.  Rejection is something which, as someone who loves to write, I know I will face again and again.  I am currently reading an autobiographical series by an author who wrote one of my favorite childhood novels, A Wrinkle in Time, and learned that she went through a period over a decade long when everything she wrote was turned down.  But to say it doesn't sting when you get that email, that letter in the mail (although those are rare these days) saying that your work essentially isn't good enough, isn't what they're looking for, etc… well, that would be a lie.  It does.  It's as though you're giving away a little piece of yourself and having someone hand it back to you, saying, "No thanks, you're not what we had in mind."

Basically, declination plants a seed of doubt.  It makes me wonder if what I'm doing is simply a waste of time.  This is a question I've asked myself numerous times.  Is there something more valuable I should be doing with the hours I spend in front of the laptop?  The kids are usually in bed, but I have a wonderful husband to whom I am devoted, an endless pile of laundry that doesn't ever seem to shrink in size, dishes, and the list can go on and on.  But when I sit up late at night, I read books by some of my favorite writers, and I think how there are certain paperbacks which have been like a long-lost friend to me, then yes.  I must write, even if no one ever thinks my work is good enough to spend money printing it on a page.  I am happier when I am spinning words together into something which, perhaps one day, will be sitting on someone's nightstand next to their cup of camomile tea.

I believe that God gives us all different passions and gifts to be used for his glory, and my ultimate goal is for my writing to draw people closer to Him.  I've gone for months without putting anything on the printed page, but I wasn't a very pleasant person to be around during those months and my husband, who is my encouragement and my strength, tells me I am a better wife when I take time to devote to this very cathartic activity.

Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night with words literally brimming out of my brain, begging to me let out onto the page, refusing to let me rest until I put it in writing, jot it down, anything to get the thoughts out of my head and into the tangible.   So yes, I will continue to write.  I will pursue this God given dream.  I will trek through the terrain which often leads to wilderness in pursuit of the unknown.  I will pray continually, give thanks in everything, and if the God to which I raise my hands is as big as I know He is, maybe, just maybe, a rumbling which started as a 3:30 wake up call will end up by your lamp stand and your cup of nightly aromas.

"...What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
James 4:14b

Friday, July 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Present


 Living in the present.  Something that is so hard to do.  For one thing, time never stops moving forward.  With never-ending frequency, it keeps ticking along, moving us forward even when we would rather stay stationary just for a moment, long enough to catch our breath and take in the sights, sounds, and aromas around us.  Begging for our attention are all the things which need to be fixed, repairs and maintenance.  A rusted-out garbage disposal that stopped working a week ago.  A dryer with a broken timer that keeps running and running until someone remembers to turn it off.

And then there's my boys.  Begging me to be still.  To forget about all of it and just roll on the floor with them, giggling until my stomach hurts.  My oldest winked at me for the first time yesterday.  When did he learn to do that?  These are the moments I need to be present for.

Response to 5 Minute Friday writing prompt:  Present

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Acceptance Instead of Judgement

Being a mom was not something I fantasized about as a child, or even as a teenager.  Becoming a wife, maybe… but I don't ever remember daydreaming about motherhood.  When our first child was born, my husband, having a sister who is 13 years younger, knew more about taking care of babies than I did.  He could get Jaden to calm down when he was crying, whereas the only way I knew to console was to feed.  As a friend I met later in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) put it, I felt as though a monkey could take better care of my baby than I could.

I put off the decision about whether or not to return to work as long as I possibly could.  Two weeks before my maternity leave would end, I drove to the Chase Bank branch where I worked and informed my boss that I would not be returning.  She was very understanding, which made it easier to leave my previous job.  Her reaction did not, however, make it any easier to adapt to my new role as a mother.  Feelings of inadequacy were my constant companion during my first year as a stay-at-home-mom.

Added to my struggle to embrace a new identity, where I was no longer a financial contributor to the household, were comments from people who would say things like, "What?  Doesn't she have a college degree?  Why did she waste all that money on school?"  Or,  "So when do you think you'll go back to work?"  Sometimes they didn't even need to say anything.  Just a simple look which said, "Oh, your one of those women…" was enough to make me feel about about as tiny as a dust mite.

Despite all of this, I knew when the days of returning to my desk job approached and I looked down at this little piece of me that I had carried inside of me for nine months and brought into this world a few short months before, I could not leave him with someone I did not know.  I did not want to leave him with anyone.  So I didn't.  And little by little, month after month, I began to feel comfortable in the new body I was left, the new life, the dirty diapers and the midnight feedings.  But I had to seek God's help.  Doing it on my own was not something I was capable of.

Everything came full circle about a year ago when I was buying a birthday gift for my oldest son, now a big brother and almost five years old, at a little local toy store.  I was talking to the cashier about school and writing and she asked what I did.  The words, "Oh, I'm just a stay-at-home mom right now…" came tumbling out of my mouth.  A gentleman standing behind me spoke up and said, "Don't ever say you're just a stay-at-home mom.  That's the most important job in the world."  Although I'd come to realize the value of my new role, his words really sank into me.  It was one of those days when I needed a little extra affirmation, as we all do from time to time, and God provided it through this complete stranger who happened to be there.

Honestly, I don't know when I will return to the work force.  I do know that right now, in this season of my life, God wants me at home taking care of my boys (Dad included) and writing when I have the time.  What he asks of another mom is not for me to say.  So, whether we're working moms or stay-at-home moms, we're all in this thing called parenting together.  And maybe if we'd stop spending so much time judging each other, we'd have more time to offer the love and support each of us so desperately needs.

"Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.  Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it.  When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it."
James 4:11

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Beautiful


I love being outside when the sunset begins.  All of the foliage and the mountains off in the distance get an orange glow about them and a nice breeze sets in.  Everything gets this sense of wonderment about it.  Still time for one last walk with the dogs, with the little one in the wagon and big brother on his bike.  The day is not quite over but soon it will be time to rest, then start anew the next day.

Fireflies dance across the dusk sky, little containers of light flicking on again, off again.  I try to follow the pattern they make through the wind.  I hear my husband cheering our son up the hill, encouraging him to peddle harder and faster, watch my little one as he bounces in his carrier, and think how very blessed I am.  As the the steady breath pumps in and out of my lungs I realize, once again, that this really is a beautiful life I'm living and thank God for giving me another day.

Response to Five Minute Friday prompt: Beautiful

Five Minute Friday